All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Monday, December 11, 2006

Open your mouth now, or prepare to open your wallet forever

This Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 7 pm, while you busily get ready for Christmas, your Elmbrook School Board begins discussion on a hot button issue: expanding 4 year old kindergarten.

The question of should we have 4-K will not go to referendum, instead our school board will vote on the 4-K decision soon. The time to contact our board members is NOW! Ask them about the cost in wages and benefits for 5 new teachers, the use of the $685,000 reserve for 4-K instead of for improvements or repairs, how much will each 4-K student receive from the state, etc.

Speak up at the meeting; go before the school board. It is a great way of communicating your opinions not only to the board, but also to the cable TV broadcast viewers.

There are so many reasons I am against the idea of 4K, I hardly know where to start, so I will narrow my scope to the more practical side: funding and long term impact. (These two aspects will be addressed in more detail in the days to come.)

First, the financial impact: According to the Brookfield News, “Elmbrook panel urges 4-K plan”, the cost per year “is $685,570, which would be paid from the district’s reserves.” This reserve, by the way, is a perfect example of what I referred to as using a stash of cash to fund an unpopular expenditure.

The panel assures this reserve would be replenished in 4 years with anticipated additional state revenues because of the increased enrollment! In other words, if we enroll more students, we get more state money. The school district portrays this state aid money as free money. WRONG: WE pay that money to the state and the state gives SOME of it back. It is not a winning arrangement.

While I do think a society has an obligation to educate, I hardly think 4K qualifies as education. It is daycare. You may be able to make the argument that early education is beneficial for inner city children, whose crack addicted mother may be passed out on the couch. But in the Elmbrook school district, I hardly think that is the case.

Parents are the primary teachers of young children. Good parents expose their children to a variety of activities: games, reading, music, crafts, playground, play groups, cooking, nature get the idea. All the things mentioned that we taxpayers provided for in the pilot program.

4-K will increase future facility needs. We are in a declining enrollment period right now, but even with that decline Joe Schroeder, Elmbrook’s assistant superintendent for educational services stated that, "We don't have enough space in our facilities to offer it (4-K) strictly as a district program." Remember that Elmbrook recently changed to all day 5- year old Kindergarten, thus doubling the classroom space needed. When enrollments increase again, where are we going to put that increase if 4 year olds are occupying 5-K classroom space? Do you want to build more schools?

We are all busy—especially this time of year—but this issue is too important to ignore. Once 4-K is fully implemented, it is safe to say there will be no going back. So, take a few moments and send those emails or make some phone calls to our school board representatives. You may contact the entire board at

JSOnline is conducting a poll on Brookfieldnow. Look for 4-year-old kindergarten may expand on left hand side. The poll is: Should the Elmbrook School District expand its 4-year-old kindergarten program? At the time of this writing it was 76.5% No, to 23.5% Yes, from 34 votes. Of course this is rather unscientific, but weigh in and then see what the totals are after you vote. I would expect that most older residents, who would be against 4K, are not even on the internet and so will not be participating in the poll.
Two of the board seats are up for election this spring. If you are thinking of running for school board, your nomination papers (200 signatures) are due 5pm, Jan. 2, 2007.

Links: and You may wish to check out too. It looks like blogger Matt Thomas will touch on Brookfield, county, and state issues from time to time.


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